How to be impeccable with your word
We have briefly discussed what the Four Agreements are, and we have talked a bit about how to apply the first one, “be impeccable with your word,” to yourself. Now, for the important part. How do we apply this to raising your child?
First, you strive to be impeccable with your own word. Be mindful of what comes out of your mouth as you label your offspring. Do you tell your child that he/she is “hardheaded” or do you tell your child that being strong-willed is a mixed blessing?
Being impeccable with your word takes time. Raising a child to speak kindly takes time. But let me remind you, the child you are raising will be the person who chooses your nursing home if there are any left at that time. So, take the time to teach them now.
Want the Cliff’s Notes version of this article? Here it is:
1. Put down your cell phone.
2. Look at your child.
3. Hug your child.
4. Choose your words carefully.
Let’s look at what to do in this scenario:
Let’s take a look at this example scenario. Your child is bouncing around in the backseat as you simultaneously try to…
a) Order from the fast-food microphone,
b) Deal with the incoming text blast from co-workers about the Zoom meeting you missed,
c) Re-assure your spouse that you are on your way home with food, and
d) Wonder why in the heck you got married and had kids in the first place.
How do you respond to this chaos (like most of us often do)?
You tell yourself you are a failure.
You can’t seem to manage your life. Your kids are impossible. Your spouse is demanding. Your job sucks.
Is this way of thinking being impeccable with your word? Nope.
Let’s rewind here. Here are the seven steps you take to respond to this situation in a healthy, positive way. We will dive into each one into more detail below.
1. Pull out of the line and park.
2. Breathe deeply for a minute or two… or ten.
3. Remind yourself that you are one person, not four.
4. Remember that adding each task only makes each minute more stressful.
5. Order your tasks in your mind and attend to them one at a time.
6. Pat yourself on the back for each task completed.
Pull out of the line and park.
Your child screams from the back seat, “I’m hungry! What are you doing?”
You calmly stated that you are overwhelmed. You understand your child is hungry. You will get back in line, but first you need to get control of the situation.
By doing this, you are modeling to your child…
– that it is okay to take a time out
– that it is okay to feel overwhelmed
– that it is okay to re-structure
– that it is okay to refrain from yelling, calling yourself stupid or incompetent
– that it is okay to love yourself enough to pause and collect
2) COLLECT YOUR THOUGHTS
Breathe deeply for a minute or two, or ten.
You tell your screaming child you will be with him/her in a minute. You hang up your cellphone. You close your eyes and take a time out. No words spoken in haste are ever impeccable. Calm your spirit and your mind, and remind yourself that you are doing a good job in a tough situation. You are worthy.
3) GET REALISTIC
Remind yourself that you are one person, not four.
You are trying to do several things at once. Back in my day, there was a television variety show called the “Ed Sullivan Show.” On this show was a wonderful juggler who kept multiple plates spinning in the air. I suggest you take a minute – actually 57 seconds, to watch him here.
I suspect you feel like this many days. Unlike Eric Brehm, ours goes on for hours, not 57 seconds. And after hours and hours of multitasking, the brain simply shuts down. According to Robert Sapolsky in Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers,
It is important to find your off-switch. Very important. Because if you don’t, your highly evolved brain is smart enough to make you sick so that you MUST flip that off-switch.
So, take a minute or two, or ten, and remind yourself that you are ONE person, not FOUR.
4) ONE THING AT A TIME
Remember that adding each task only makes each minute more stressful.
According to an article in Forbes Magazine (author Travis Bradberry), research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The results of this series of experiments confirmed that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.
Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only truly focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two or more things at once, your brain simply cannot perform each task well.
5) PUT YOUR TASKS IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE
Order your tasks in your mind and attend to them one at a time.
Caring is the first key. Think of other people when performing your tasks. There are no tasks in this world that can be completed alone without any involvement or engagement from others.
So, you have four folks in your mind competing for your attention. Who is most important? Your child, your spouse, your boss, or your co-worker? This is a hard choice, and often times it won’t be the same person each time.
Prioritize, knowing that you are doing what you can. Notify each one crying for your attention that you will be getting to them shortly. Then tackle your list one at a time. Pull back in line, order your food, pay for it, and head home to the upset spouse. Eat, take a moment, then deal with the co-worker and the boss. In these times of uncertainty, it is doubtful that you will get fired for taking care of your child and spouse first.
6) REWARD YOURSELF
Pat yourself on the back for each task completed.
This step is critical. If you don’t receive positive feedback, you will not build good self-esteem and self-worth. Without good self-esteem, it is very difficult to be impeccable with your word.
So, take a minute after each task and tell yourself you did as much as you could, and that it was well done. Don’t take time to criticize or evaluate your performance here. The job is to be impeccable with your word.
Praise yourself for just getting through that situation. Praise your child for being patient and understanding. Praise your spouse for being understanding and supportive. Praise your boss and co-workers for being patient and letting the needs of your family come first.
BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD!
Try this worksheet to help you in your efforts to use your words positively.
How do you feel when someone says, “Hey, you did a great job with that”?
How do you feel when someone says, “You messed up. You can’t do this right”?
You feel better with the first one, don’t you? Most of us feel that way. We feel better when someone tells us we did a good job, we look good, they like us, and other positive comments.
Most of us feel pretty bad, or unsure of ourselves when others criticize us.
The funny thing about people is, when we feel good about ourselves, others usually feel good and tend to be happier. It’s called “Emotional Mirroring.” Some people feel the emotions of others more strongly than the rest of us, but all of us are able to affect others’ emotions with our own.
There is an old saying, “Misery Loves Company.” It means that when we are miserable, others around us usually feel miserable, too. Also, when we feel happy, those around us often find themselves feeling happy, too.
Have you ever been around someone who seems “down” all the time? Someone who always finds fault with others, who just can’t seem to find the good in things? Do you really like to hang around with them? Why not?
How about that friend who is always upbeat and positive? Do you like hanging around with that person? Why?
So, this week we are going to try something. We are going to try to be a positive as we can. We are going to try to think positive thoughts, and say positive things to others. Let’s see if you find people hanging around with you more when you do this.
Here are some positive things to say to others:
1. You look nice today!
2. I like your hair like that.
3. Wow, you did a good job.
4. That’s ok, you will get it next time!
5. I believe in you.
6. I admire that.
7. I love your creativity!
8. Let’s do it your way.
9. Being with you is fun!
Can you think of more?
Let’s try it this week and see how it goes!